Part 2: Is Technology Slowing Down Your Digital Transformation?

July 30, 2020 Eric Robertson

In part one of this post, we shared insights from Andreas Prins’ webinar on speeding up digital transformation in the enterprise and keys to building a responsive enterprise, utilizing lean and agile techniques to enable value stream management. We shared three pillars to success: customer collaboration, organizational simplicity, and data-driven decisions. Prioritizing these will help you to focus on business outcomes and reap the value of software applications.

In this post, we will share Andreas’ recommendations for getting started—practical ways to move forward and put into practice the three pillars for building a responsive enterprise. These are shifts in thinking that will position you to advance and be an agent of change within your organization. 

Adopt Quality-first Thinking 

A quality-first mindset helps to both improve customer satisfaction and, at the same time, optimizes engineering capacity. These two go hand in hand. By focusing on quality first you will see the number of open incidents and tickets raised by the customer will go down. This is important because the higher your customer satisfaction, the more business grows. The downside to having many open incidents is obvious. From a Lean perspective, this disrupts the flow of new feature development.

You can have a great vision, but if the quality is lacking, execution will fail.

The concept of “shift left,” falls under quality-first thinking. It helps to bring parts of the development process, such as security, into consideration earlier. Automation is also key to a quality-first mindset because it enables you to test and ensure quality early, collecting data throughout the entire pipeline. 

Rethink the Reality of Pipelines

For any customer-facing service such as processing a payment, many apps are going to be involved in your stack. In an ideal world, we might imagine pipelines to look like the above image. You would expect to have a simple pipeline to deploy four different business applications. This is not reality, however and it’s time to revisit how you see pipelines. If you focus on customer delivery, most likely there’s a separate pipeline for each application. Modern customer-facing web applications will likely mean multiple pipelines with each representing a different speed. For example, a data lake on premises may have hundreds of integrations and is going to move slower than a customer application like AWS. 

How do you manage this superset of activities? If it’s difficult to solve the complexity, you need to manage it. You must be able to align these distinct pipelines so they can run in cadence. They will have their own rhythm, but this is aligned for delivery. By focusing on delivery, you can start building insights and gathering data and bringing the changes from the engineering team into the hands of the customers. 

The result is a reliable and stable delivery process. Do you have the visibility to see what your pipelines are? Making releases independent benefits the customer. In today’s technology environment and with the rapid changes of COVID-19, we don’t have weeks to run end-to-end testing, we need to be able to make changes within days. 

Understand DevOps is a Must

In a large enterprise, you want to experiment in specific areas and then scale rapidly to all teams. DevOps as a Service helps you achieve this, where practices are shared. DevOps as a Service provides a platform, ready for consumption, with predefined patterns, to scale DevOps practices across the enterprise. What’s helpful about this approach is that the services are ready for use and available to all teams. These predefined patterns provide expert knowledge to all teams. DevOps tools produce so much data that this approach allows you to enable enforcement of compliance and governance, which ultimately enables the acceleration of DevOps adoption.

All of these tips and strategies are intended to help you create a more responsive enterprise. These technologies and practices, presented in part one, coupled with the new ways of thinking described here, lead to higher IT performance. As we’ve seen, IT performance is directly correlated with having a responsive enterprise. 

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About the Author

Eric Robertson

Eric is VP of Strategy and Certified SPC at Before, Eric served as Director of services and portfolio management for enterprise solutions at Unisys. Eric joined Cisco through a company acquisition, where he led product management for Cisco's cloud automation and SAP ALM extension offerings. Eric has successfully held product development, services and management roles with enterprises and start-ups and has provided consulting services to Fortune 500 companies. Eric holds a patent in the area of virtualization and a Master's Degree in Electrical and Software Engineering from University of Texas in Austin and continues to further his research in domain- specific languages, and intelligent automation.

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